Monday, February 5, 2018

Moving to Washington

Enjoying that sun which comes out maybe once a week-ah!
Beautiful Seattle Temple
About to head out of Moscow!
Country roads that we won't see very often anymore
It hasn’t quite hit me yet that I’m a Washingtonian now and that I might live here longer than I’ve lived anywhere else. What? I only knew Oregon as a kid and had a green heart for sure and then spent 10 years in Idaho back and forth for school and getting married, Austin finishing up school, and then grad school. We came to love Idaho and I didn’t think I would actually be okay living in Idaho for a good while (except I could do without their harsh winters.) But after some time in Moscow, I knew we were going to leave and I started to feel like we needed to. It was probably because we got comfortable and we would settle for a job that wasn’t right if it meant we could stay there. I just knew that wasn’t the path we were supposed to take. It was hard though, because, even though there isn’t a lot there, we absolutely loved it. The ward, the people, the area, the small town feel, just felt right at our level. 

I think I grew to love it more when I started playing basketball twice a week with some ladies in the area, mostly those from our stake, and the friendships I had with some of them. Two of those girls, Amber and Wendy, I just kept giving them hugs and hugs on our last Sunday at Church. They were some of the best people I met there. I made sure to give a hug to Warren Bone, Amber’s son that was in our CTR 6 class, because if I wasn’t already married and he was 20 years older, I would totally marry the kid. ;) He is the cutest! And he brought a lot of comic relief to our class. 

Let me just say that this whole month of craziness between Austin’s 2nd interview, Christmas, Hawaii, and packing up has been full of tender mercies and miracles. 

Back it up even further, last July, we knew we wanted to stay in Moscow while Austin finished up a few loose ends with school and look for jobs. We wanted to stay in the ward and found it was crunch time to settle on a place and move in. The only place that worked where we could move in right away was just down the street from where we lived. It was a little more expensive but still doable. The problem was is that it was a year lease and we didn’t know when Austin would get a job and when we would move. I was so anxious, especially since many family members told us how worried they were that we would have to keep paying the rent if it didn’t sell and how risky it was. But after doing some thought work, we still decided to go with the apartment, praying that it would all work out. I wrote more about that experience here

Once we found out we got the job, we fasted in January about our housing situation both to sell our apartment and to find a good place when we moved. Austin put up the ad on craigslist while we were in Hawaii and by the next day we had 5 interested people. The thing is people have to physically come see the apartment before they sign any lease. That dwindled our numbers considerably. But with the pressure of moving quickly after getting back from our trip, we didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. On Sunday of the week we were leaving a young man came to see the apartment. But because he was an international student with no social security number, we didn’t think it would be likely for him to get the apartment. The next day was a holiday and that morning another man called and asked to come see the apartment right then. They just needed something temporarily before him and his wife bought a house. They were in the military so paying for the apartment was no problem. They went right away to the office (thankfully they were open) and applied for an apartment, got approved, and the next day they signed the lease. It was a miracle! We decided to leave on Thursday that week so to have that all squared away just days before we left was amazing. 

We also felt it was a tender mercy to see dear friends before we left. We had Katie Brown over for dinner and games on Monday, Ahmad and Marwa came to visit and gave us a waffle iron as a parting gift (they are so generous!) Sarah Geddes helped me clean a bit in the afternoon and that was fun to see her. Wendy Johns took me out to lunch the day before we left. I’m going to miss our chats! Then that night Ahmad and Marwa came again and helped us move furniture and cleaned the apartment. I really couldn’t have cleaned the apartment without Marwa. She was a big help! I always think it’s not going to take me that long but it’s always longer than I expect. Our little thank you to them was buying them pizza for dinner and giving them leftover food from our fridge. Ahmad still made us a lemon cake and brought it that night (and he doesn’t own a car so he walked in the cold to do that.) Again, they are amazing. We also had some great help from the men in the ward to help us move. I kind of got teary-eyed the next morning after we handed in our keys and were driving down the Main Street for the last time. I was thinking about my fun experiences this last summer working at the farmer’s market and loving those little shops and loving this town. It will have a great place in our hearts. 

Me and Katie
It took about two extra hours longer to get to Portland because we were towing our car but it worked out. We had some help getting the piano from the Vances into the truck and it was so fun to see Tiffany, who was tending the Vance kids, before we left. It was great to hear about her and Asher’s experience being in Orlando for Disney World and Harry Potter World.

And just like the miracle of finding someone to sell our apartment, the 2nd apartment we looked at we wanted. We jumped on it quick and we got it and moved in the following Wednesday. We were in the hotel from Friday to Wednesday but it all worked out. We did a lot of exploring in the meantime and found some great trails and places to shop and of course stopped by the libraries and bookshops at any chance we got. But I was pretty disappointed on Tuesday that we hadn’t gotten approved yet. It didn’t help that it was pouring rain that day and so Washington wasn’t looking all that lovely at the moment. Let’s just say it’s been a while since we’ve seen sun. Ah, how do people do it around here?! And how did I do it growing up in Oregon? I guess you just live with it. 

We did have some wonderful sisters in the ward help us move smaller boxes up our two flights of stairs and then the missionaries came to help us move the big stuff. Austin did a ton unpacking as well. Austin really has carried me through this whole move. He’s done so much while I’ve been exhausted and lying on the couch. 

I think the weirdest thing is being here is not a temporary thing. I’ve only known after high school being in a place for a couple of years at a time tops. I haven’t quite gotten out of my head that this could be more like 5-10 years. But Washington, here we go!
But hey, we have a cool fireplace!
Austin's first day of work
Me at 19 weeks. It's like I woke up and there was finally a little bump there. It's been fun to feel the baby a little more.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January 2018 Reading Round-Up

I did snippets of monthly round-ups when I first started mentioning books on my blog but then lost the habit. But I decided that it’s a fun way to remember what I read and maybe add more things than what I put on Goodreads. 

It took me forever to finally finish a book because of the holiday. Usually that’s when people get the most reading in but I find the opposite happens. Not sure why. This one I read mostly on the plane ride back to Oregon. I liked it well enough. It was like the super mild/middle grade version of the The Hate U Give but I don’t see it being as impactful as that one. What I did like was the setting took place in Portland, Oregon so it was fun to read about the places that I grew up visiting. 

I kind of cheated and read some of this in 2017 but finished it up this year. I loved how he went through each chapter with a characteristic of Christ and how He exemplifies that in our life. It helped me to feel more personally connected with Christ and want to spend more time learning about Him. 

I guess this is a Christmas novella but it doesn’t reference Christmas all that much. It only takes 48 minutes to listen to (I love that Santino Fontana did it) but I actually thought the whole story was really depressing. I think there was supposed to be this great philosophy lesson in it but I just didn’t get it. Maybe not one that will cheer me up in the holidays. 

Like everyone had said, this one was really moving. It was a little queasy listening to his surgery experiences, especially the ones about labor and delivery. I was really touched by him and his wife attitudes towards life and how they would approach this trial together. I also came away from wanting to think deeper and write more. I love that we have this legacy of Paul because he decided to keep writing. It makes me want to continue to write despite my flaws with it. I know I never regret writing down experiences and my thoughts. 

So timely. Read full review here.

After being in Pearl Harbor, I really wanted to read more about this part in history. I found this on another blog and eagerly got it from my local library. It's a really short, quick read but very powerful. He goes into a lot of detail that you wouldn't get unless it was a firsthand experience, like how he escaped the ship, his thoughts and emotions towards war, his leaders, military of Japan, and how it effects him today. The wording in the book was interesting because it felt like I was reading an interview or sitting in his living room listening to his stories. They put a lot of "you're probably wondering why I'm mentioning so much about my shoes, so let me tell you why." I don't know, it was just a lot different than other memoirs I've read. It felt personal and honest which I really liked. 

Okay I'm just about finish this one but I'll put it in this month's read. It's part of my 2018 reading challenge. But I'm in the minority here that I just didn't really like it all that much. I guess I'm more indifferent to the story than having a strong dislike for it. I guess I'm just not that interested in a rabbit adventure story. I'm really curious why people love it so much so if you read and really liked, let me know your thoughts. I don't have anything against it, I just wasn't that interested. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

This Is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick

This was the perfect book to read on our move from Idaho to Washington. There were so many points that I wanted to remember. It helped me to understand a little bit why I liked Moscow so much too. I hope to implement some of the ideas she wrote about here in our new place so I can find a love for here too.

It really boils down to you decide to love a place. Another way of saying it is what’s the story you’re telling yourself about this place? If you say that there’s not much to do here, you probably won’t find much to do here. But if you say that there are many things to do here, you’ll find that too. 

Her first ‘love your city checklist’ is all about walking in your area. When you’re driving in a car you’re only thinking about getting from one place to the next and trying not to crash your car so you’re only aware of some things like buildings and stop lights. Once you get outside and wander, you find character to a place. You see how the trees are, the different shapes of houses, the smells of a fresh bakery. 

One thing I loved about Moscow was the trail that ran from Pullman to Moscow to Troy. It’s about 11 miles total and part of it ran right across our street where we lived. I did a lot of walking on those trails and it felt invigorating to get outside and get somewhere without using my car. It also came in handy when we were without a car and internet for a month and I would walk to campus every day using that trail. I loved it. Where we’re at now, there’s a park just a block from where we live. They have a small path but I’m already realizing how ‘stuck’ I feel without a good trail to get me to downtown. I’m trying to find a way to do it though. 

One of her other ideas is to buy local. We do a lot of good to the community when we buy local. It’s tempting to buy things cheaper at a Wal-mart and Winco and I’m guilty of this in many ways, but buying local keeps things running in the community. These small businesses help with community sports, fundraisers, etc. It’s fun when you become a regular and you can form friendships with the cashiers and in exchange they give you advice about life. One thing she mentions to do that I think is doable is set a budget each month to buy something locally. Something I regret doing while I was in Moscow is not buy anything from the local bookstore. When Eowyn Ivey came to visit, I decided to get the book online because I knew it would be cheaper. In reality it was only $8 cheaper which is not a big deal at all. And if I bought it at the bookstore, it was really me investing a little bit into this community. These events happen because people contribute. My goal is to better at this while I’m here. 

Another way to buy local is a farmer’s market. I got to work at a booth last year and I saw this firsthand. You get the regular customers week after week and you start to form bonds with them. You also feel like family with the other vendors because you’re working week after week next to them. Everyone looks out for one another. Even though we’ll all trying to make a profit, we really want the best for each other. 

She talks about getting to know your neighbors as a way of loving your place. I also hear it’s a great way to prevent crime. We were lucky enough to meet our next door neighbor the day we moved in. She is so sweet. I was talking to a lady in the ward and she said that there are often neighborhood get-togethers around these parts. I found out that in our little apartment community they have planned activities. It’s the little things.

One of the points is to find something fun to do. I love this one because it gets me to be more adventurous to do something that if someone were to visit, they would want to do it too. We live really close to a state park and can pretty much guarantee that will be a hot spot for people to come too. But I love the idea of finding a fun restaurant only offered in this town and taking people there. 

I could go on and on but it goes to show that you love a place when you invest in it. Two people could live in the same place and one love it and one hate it. I saw this a bit in Moscow. For those that hated the town, I always wondered if they ever went to the farmer’s market, or ate at Stax’s, or perused the local bookshop or co-op. There is so much to gain from taking a little time and getting to know your town, preferably by walking in it too. Usually when you know something for a long time and are interested in it, you will grow to love it. 

What ways have you found to love where you live?

Hawaii Part Two

After Mere and Bryan got back from Oregon, Austin and I went out right away to Lanikai beach and hiked up the pillbox hike there. Bryan said the hike was so easy that Hudson even did it barefoot. So Austin only took his flip flops but because his feet got so sweaty, they became more of a nuisance and so part of the time he also went barefoot. What we realized is that we were way more out of shape than Bryan was and our energy level is not like Hudson’s so yes “easy” for them, but tiring for us. We felt like whimps! We were happy to lounge on the beach afterwards and take in the amazing blue water before us. It was a tad cold to jump in but we walked the small stretch of the softest sand we’ve been on. 

Friday we spent all day up in Laie visiting the temple visitor center, getting the famous coconut macadamia shrimp from Seven Brothers, and then spending the rest of the afternoon and evening at the Polynesian Cultural Center. It was so fun! We got to go to pretty much all the islands (Tonga and Samoa were our favorites), got to experience Hawaii through their movie which shot mist and water at you during the presentation, and got to enjoy a luau right before the evening show. 

We were told to get the pineapple mango smoothie. It did not disappoint.  

On Saturday, we hung out with the fam and went to Sophie’s pizza and went to Bellow’s (military base beach) and enjoyed hours of surfing and boogie boarding. The waves were perfect for boogie boarding even though I got flipped over several times. I’m so impressed with these kiddos who are pros at surfing and boogie boarding and skin boarding. It’s so fun to watch them. 

Bryan showed us this cool area (it was actually off limits but it was worth seeing!) The current was so strong, it was a little scary.

Koko Head
Bryan also showed us this cool tunnel under the road. It looked out over where we were before. 

This is what happens when you follow through on a ripstick challenge by Bryan. 
Sunday morning before Church, Austin and I went to Pearl Harbor, just a ten minute drive from Mere’s place. Wow, that was quite an amazing place. It was so reverent and peaceful. They do a 20 minute video presentation on what happened that day and then we took a boat ride out to the memorial over the USS Arizona. I guess I didn’t realize or had just forgotten that over 1,100 men are still down there. The ship was their tomb. I came away with more of a love for our country, for those who serve, and a desire to learn more about this part in history. I’m actually reading a memoir of a survivor on the USS Arizona and it’s incredible and heart breaking. 

So Jocelyn wasn't cooperating and going outside to play so Bryan made her do chores and she was happy to comply. :) 

Monday they took the two oldest out of school so we could all go on Mere’s favorite hike, Kalalua ridge. It’s an incline up this mountain ridge. At first it’s just switch backs through the forest areas, then you overlook the southern part of the island where Waikiki, Diamond Head, and Koko Head are. Then it’s about another 200+ steps (don’t worry we counted so it would take Evelyn’s mind off of how hard the hike was), and then you are on this ridge overlooking about a 1/3 of the island. It was breathtaking. It’s about a 5 mile round trip and all the kids did it! They were such troopers. Lots of stops to eat M&M’s sure did help. We were all pretty freaked out (except Bryan of course) about kids wandering up there because it’s a drop off so we were holding on to their hands for dear life. I’m sure us being frantic about it didn’t make it any better. ;)

I can't remember what triggered this but our CTR 6 class loves to play the rock game, which is basically sitting in a position so still that if you move you're out. It worked for 5 minutes with them. :)

Me and Mere. She is amazing!!
We went back to Sophie’s pizza and then Austin and I went to Sandy Beach (a very touristy beach) and hung out during the sunset. We’re pretty sure we saw a whale in the distance. The waves were huge for being so close to shore. We were watching as people were being plummeted left and right. But the view of the ocean and how quiet it was where we were was amazing (I feel like I’ve been saying that word a lot here) but it really was. 

The panoramic view

It was also fun to play games with Mere and Bryan and have some great chats. They were so nice to let us use their car and stay at their house. It made the trip a lot more affordable. We were so sad to leave. We miss those kiddos so much! I especially miss Jocelyn’s voice and cute antics and Hudson’s hilarious logical conversations. I know I put this one up on instagram but Hudson has never lived in cold weather. He was born in Arizona and then they moved to Hawaii. He was telling us at the dinner table that Santa is not real. “Because Santa lives in the North Pole, and the North Pole has snow, and snow DOESN’T EXIST!” We were laughing so hard! 

The timing of the trip was perfect too as we were on our 5th anniversary and we knew we were going to move as soon as we got home. We might not have been able to make this trip otherwise so we count it as a blessing that it all worked out the way it did!